Union says OVH chief flew off the handle

PERKINS TWP. The Ohio Veterans Home police chief's temper has him in hot water with union members at
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

The Ohio Veterans Home police chief's temper has him in hot water with union members at the home.

Union members want OVH police Chief Gabe Ferencz to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he should be permitted to carry a weapon after an alleged outburst during a union grievance hearing last month, according to documents obtained by the Register.

The meeting discussion focused on OVH's failure to properly post a dispatcher position, Ferencz said. Ferencz said he is not aware of any complaint against him because of his conduct at the meeting.

"There was some concern about professional standards of how the meeting was conducted," Ferencz said. "I'm not going to get into the specifics of the meeting. It's all perception of what transpired at the meeting."

According to the grievance, Ferencz became angry when a representative from Ohio Civil Service Employees Association Local 11 asked for a few minutes to caucus.

"You people need to be on time," Ferencz said, according to the grievance.

The grievance goes on to state that Ferencz used "racist, threatening and derogatory remarks such as, 'You people don't even know your own contract.'"

Ferencz became so incensed, the grievance alleges, that one union representative "had to ask (Ferencz) to watch his hands and not come any closer because if (Ferencz) hit her, she would file charges."

Ferencz at that point said, "I don't have to talk to you rookies."

Just before leaving the meeting, he reportedly snarled, "Have fun washing dishes."

Ferencz also addressed the non-posting of the dispatch job. He allegedly said the OVH experienced recent budget cuts and stated he planned to work around them by "not posting the jobs."

The union recommended that Ferencz undergo sensitivity and diversity training.

"It is the union's position that management has failed to deal with his kind of behavior, and it has led many managers to feel this is acceptable behavior," the grievance stated.

Ferencz, who earns $70,553 a year, is the former commander of the Sandusky Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He served on the patrol for 26 years and has held the OVH chief of police position for eight years.

OVH Superintendent Richard Hatcher said he is investigating the allegations against Ferencz.

"The union has made allegation that the chief did not act in a diplomatic manner," Hatcher said. "I'm investigating the matter and I have not finished. I couldn't tell you if it is true or not."

Raquel Dowdy-Cornute, the OVH human resources director, is conducting the investigation, Hatcher said. Dowdy-Cornute did not return a call for comment.

Ferencz said a meeting is scheduled Friday to discuss the dispatch job with union and OVH officials and added he's confident all concerns will be ironed out then.

"We're confident we can resolve this issue and move on," Ferencz said.

The OVH is one of the country's largest government-run nursing and assisted living homes for residents who served in the military during war time.